ITALY

An Italian villa in Tuscany or Umbria makes sense for those who are hankering to get away and want to make it mean something. Call it a staycation or a luxury hub. Either way, staying in a villa or mansion in Italy with to-die-for views, exquisite dining and tasting adventures, and romantic jaunts through centuries-old mountain villages is just about as good as it gets.
While Italy is accustomed to seeing a flurry of Americans each summer – high season for the 14.5 Americans that visit Italy every year – for most of those visitors, Italy is a three-day stop with sweeps through such popular destinations as Rome, Venice, Florence and Milan. Many flock to the sea with stays along the Amalfi Coast or the major islands of Sardinia and Sicily.

But few call these magical places home for more than a night or two. Wandering the mountains of Umbria, experiencing medieval castles and truffle-laced treats while discovering new wines and ancient wonders are moments that must be enjoyed slowly. To see Italy is to visit Italian style – heading to famous attractions (who can resist a kiss in the Trevi Fountains?) at off hours and far from the crowds. Visit the Sistine Chapel with time spent surrounded by the great works of Michelangelo, not in a line outside the door. Walk the bridges of Venice looking at the grand canals rather than your feet; have breakfast on the shores of Lake Como as if enjoying a daily ritual. This is the Italy few Americans will know unless they take their time to live and explore and visit Italy as a local, living in a private Italian house or villa and visiting the best places in Italy on their own terms.

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